How to Fit FBA Sourcing into Your Busy Schedule

Today’s post comes from my wife, Rebecca, who will write on this blog from time to time. Her post is full of great tips for all of us busy entrepreneurs.

Photo by user CELALTEBER from

Sourcing while busy? It’s possible! Photo by CELALTEBER from

Part of the way we’re able to make full-time FBA a possibility for our family is by strategically planning our time each week. One way I contribute to our FBA business is by sourcing once every few days. With four boys in our family, I have to a lot to keep up with around the house — and as a freelance writer, I have writing projects that require my attention also. But Stephen and I have figured out some ways to get me out of the house and sourcing on a regular basis by combining my business shopping with other errands or social activities.

I’ll share with you a few ways I work sourcing into my schedule, and then I’d like to challenge you to come up with one new way you can source this week. Try the new addition to your schedule for a month or two and see if it adds new products to your inventory on a regular basis.

1. I combine sourcing with my regular household shopping.

Across the street from the grocery store where I shop for our family is a Target. When I do my weekly grocery shopping, I try to give myself an extra half hour or so in my schedule to run into Target and scan their clearance shelves. Sometimes I find stuff to buy for FBA, sometimes I don’t — but the Target is right on my regular route anyway, so it doesn’t hurt to stop and look. A couple of weeks ago, I took about 30 minutes to scan clearance items, filled half a cart, and spent $50 on items that will sell for $150 on FBA, for a profit of $100. Not bad for a half hour of work on my way to buy our groceries!

2. I combine sourcing with my regular social outings.

Every Thursday I meet a friend to discuss books over a cup of coffee. Her house is in a different part of town from where I live, so it gives me the opportunity to visit thrift stores I don’t always pass on a daily basis. Depending on how much time I have, I plan to visit 1 – 3 thrift shops in that part of town after our coffee date. Again, I just make it a point to work that extra sourcing time into my schedule that day.

3. I combine sourcing with fun activities with my husband.

Stephen and I like to go out for different types of international cuisine, but there aren’t a lot of options close to where we live. Every 4 – 6 weeks, we schedule a day to drive to a nearby town, eat a new type of cuisine for lunch, and visit thrift shops near the restaurant. We plan our route ahead of time so that we can make the most of the day — usually we’re able to source at 5 – 8 thrift shops before or after our lunch date.

At other times we’ve sourced on the way to visit out-of-town relatives or while driving an hour away to pick up someone at the airport. Take a look at your regular activities and do a search for thrift shops or retail stores with clearance sections in the nearby area. Then take a look at the irregular activities that pop up on your calendar but take you to a different part of town or even the state — do searches for thrift shops in those areas to maximize the benefit of the time you’re spending on the road. If you’re already having to make a two hour round trip, why not leave a couple of hours early to get some sourcing done in a fresh area while you’re at it? You’re likely to find items that will at least pay for the gas for your trip, or even a great deal higher profit.

Today's blog is written by my wife, Rebecca.

Today’s blog was written by my wife, Rebecca.

We’d love for you to leave us a comment. Are there ways you work sourcing into your non-business-related activities each week or month? What new ways are you planning to add sourcing to your schedule in the coming weeks?

21 responses to “How to Fit FBA Sourcing into Your Busy Schedule

  1. Don’t forget to keep track of mileage, tolls and parking. Depending on a number of variables, your auto expenses might be deductible (consult your CPA). **Everywhere** I go is a sourcing trip!

  2. I’m still working at a full-time J.O.B., so this is helpful. I hope to be full-time FBA one day–well, in three years when my husband is eligible to retire. I have a new work schedule this fall, so I will let you know how it goes. Right now, I plan to get off at 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I plan to hit Big Lots, TJ Maxx, and Goodwill, at least. Maybe more if there’s time. On Thursdays, I plan to hit the Habitat Restore and the Mall that includes a Penny’s, a Belk, and a Beall’s Outlet. Again, maybe more if there’s time. Lots of estate and yard sales start on Fridays, so I have worked my schedule to be off on Fridays and Saturdays to take those in. Plus, we drive every other weekend to see my mother in a bigger city and plan to hit the stores we pass along the way. Makes me tired just thinking about it now, but once I start finding bargains, I get really charged up and energized. Oh, and plan to prepare shipments on Sundays.

    • Rebecca Smotherman Rebecca Smotherman

      Do keep us posted, Pat. It’s a lot of work, but it sounds like you have tons of options for sourcing where you live — and it sounds like you have a great plan for how to make the most of the time you have for sourcing. Keep at it! I’m sure you’ll soon see the benefits of your new schedule reflected in your FBA payouts.

  3. I love to do sourcing when my hubby and I are out of town, which is often, usually once a month. On one of our excursions, we stopped at a K-Mart in a small town, thinking we wouldn’t find much. Boy, were we surprised. We ended up with a cartful of clearance toys, clothing and food items to list on Amazon and Ebay, with the best find being only 10 cents, which sold within a few hours of listing on Ebay. I go to my local K-Mart in Los Angeles at least once a week and never found that item cleared down to 10 cents. That convinced us to ALWAYS stop, no matter how small the town is!

    • Diane, I love sourcing at “out of town” stores… there is so much potential to find a store that no reseller has ever been to! So glad you found a great place to source while out of town with your husband.

  4. Makes me want to go for some international food in a nearby town with my wife.

  5. Hi Stephen and Rebecca~

    You make some really great points in this post, but I did read one thing that could unintentionally mislead your readers. You said “…spent $50 on items that will sell for $150 on FBA, for a profit of $100.”

    When I evaluate a product for possible resale, I look at the cost by baking in all of the costs to me for that product: purchase price, sales tax, cost to ship to Amazon (I use a flat $1/item to cover the box, poly bags, labels and packing materials) and Amazon’s fees (which eat up at least $3.50). If I can’t double my costs, I don’t buy it.

    I’m just wondering how it is that you are able to make a profit when you’re sourcing items purchases at 33% of retail. I won’t buy anything unless it’s 25% of retail (75% off)! What am I missing?!?

    I’ve only been selling since May of this year so I’m sure there’s a lot to learn!

    Cheers ~

    • Ree,

      When we look for items to buy for resale, we actually don’t care how much off of retail an item is. In fact, we find a lot of items that are sold at full retail price that we still at least double or triple our money on.

      For example, there are groceries we buy for $3 retail at the store, but sell on Amazon for $15. We have toys we buy retail price of $4, and sell on Amazon for $20. There are lots of great finds out there that you can buy retail and make plenty of profit.

      When you are out sourcing, don’t just look at sale or clearance price items, but retail priced items too. It takes more time to find these items, but you’ll be very glad that you did.

      • Thanks for elaborating, Stephen. I haven’t found those golden eggs yet but I suppose that’s because I’m not really looking at the items priced at full retail. Although, that would be a good strategy because the likelihood of being able to replenish your supply is greater.

        I’ve found that it’s a lot of work to prep, package, list and ship for items that you’ll never get at the discounted price again. It wears me out!

        Thanks for sharing all your great advice. Your blog is really very helpful 🙂

  6. Thank you for these tips Rebecca! As a SAH homeschool mom I find sourcing to be time consuming with kids in tow. Last night my husband watched the kids so I could run to Walmart and 3 hours later.. 😉 I came home with much needed new inventory!

  7. Thanks for this information. I’m new at this. I’m relocating to another city and have not been able to source or buy supplies. I’ll start putting this into action as soon as I get settled.

  8. Hello Rebecca,
    Are you using a scanner attached to your phone, or are you using the Amazon App?

  9. I took the month of December off sourcing when my husband surprised me with a new “she cabin” (woman’s version of a man cave lol) and it was really empty inside…a shell. So I knew all our left over money needed to not only pay bills down, but to get the building to the point I can move at the end of January (he is doing all the work inside and with cold weather it tends to slow down the painting drying and the flooring put in etc). I am so excited to get my home back from all the things I have in it from my online selling. Anyway, now I am back to sourcing some and I use the time just after sub- teaching, church and visiting friends to make a run to several stores (target, cvs and walgreens- we are blessed with multiple of these nearby) on one day, skip a day to list, then to others (thrift stores, walmart, ross, tuesday morning etc). On days where the weather is nice and I am not working and he is I try to get more than three in! When the weather is not the greatest like now with the rains and below freezing temps…then I source on-line while watching tv with hubby or when he is asleep. We are empty-nesting so it is a lot easier for us! BTW I love the scopes!

  10. Hi Rebecca, how do you sell items from thrift stores in Amazon? Doesn’t there have to be a label with the UPC on each item?

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